Bar Qualification Rules

BSB Handbook

Rule Q29 Providers of vocational training and pupillage must be authorised by the BSB as an AETO.

Rule Q30 An application to become an AETO must be made in such form and be accompanied by payment of such fee or fees as may be prescribed by the BSB.

Rule Q31 In determining an application from an applicant to become an AETO, the BSB will have regard to the Authorisation Framework and in particular the mandatory criteria. The BSB will not approve an application to become an AETO unless it is satisfied that it is:

.1 able to meet the mandatory criteria set out in the Authorisation Framework relevant to the application; and

.2 a suitable provider for the purposes of the Authorisation Framework.

Rule Q32 The BSB may grant authorisation to an AETO on such terms and conditions as it considers appropriate including the period of authorisation.

Rule Q33 The BSB may vary, amend, suspend or withdraw authorisation of an AETO in the following circumstances:

.1 the AETO has applied for such variation, amendment, suspension or withdrawal;

.2 the AETO ceases to exist, becomes insolvent or merges;

.3 the AETO fails to comply with conditions imposed upon its authorisation;

.4 the BSB is of the view that the AETO has failed or will fail to fulfil the mandatory requirements set out in the Authorisation Framework;

.5 the BSB is of the view that the AETO is not providing the training for which it was authorised to an adequate standard or there has been a material change in the training provided; or

.6 the BSB is of the view that the continued authorisation of the AETO would inhibit the Regulatory Objectives.

Rule Q34 An AETO which is dissatisfied by a decision in relation to Rule Q31 – Q33 above may apply to the BSB for a review.


1) All current pupillage providers (ie those granted Pupillage Training Organisation (PTO) or Approved Training Organisation (ATO) status by the BSB) who wish to continue to provide pupillage after 1 April 2019 must meet the criteria for authorisation set out in the Authorisation Framework.

2) To support the Authorisation Framework, the BSB has published guidance for prospective AETOs providing the work-based learning (pupillage) component.

3) The BSB will contact all existing pupillage providers in due course to discuss how, and when, they will be authorised as Authorised Education and Training Organisations (AETOs).

4) In the meantime, current PTOs can continue to provide pupillage and advertise for new pupils, in line with the requirements set out in the BSB Handbook and Bar Qualification Manual.

The application process

5) The application for AETO status will require you to submit details of your pupillage training programme, setting out how you will ensure that those whom you train satisfy the Threshold Standard and Competences of the BSB's Professional Statement, as well as details of how your training will meet the principles of flexibility, accessibility, affordability and maintaining high standards.

6) Detailed guidance on the application process for AETO status may be found in Part 4B of the Bar Qualification Manual.

7) Existing pupillage providers will not be charged an application fee to become an AETO. 

8) Authorisation as an AETO will be a one-off process; however, AETOs will have to notify the BSB of any material change in their pupillage arrangements.

9) Unsuccessful applicants may apply for a review of their application, in line with Rule Q34 of the BSB Handbook. For further guidance on the process of applying for a review, please see Part 2E (E1) of the Bar Qualification Manual.

10) It is our intention to work with all prospective AETOs to address any areas of concern and ensure that they meet the required standards.

Organisations no longer providing pupillages

11) If you do not have any pupils currently, and do not intend to have any in the foreseeable future, please tell us – your authorisation to provide pupillages will then be withdrawn.

12) If you are authorised as a PTO and have pupils that commenced on (or before) 1 April 2019, but you do not intend to provide any further pupillages, you will continue to be authorised until the end date of the relevant pupillages.

13) If you decide to take on pupils in the future, you can apply afresh for authorisation as an AETO, but this will attract an application fee.